Sena Dynasty | Sena Empire | Senas of Bengal

The Sena Dynasty

The Sena Dynasty of Bengal belonged to the Brahmana-Kshatriya clan of Karnata in South India. After the palas, Senas became the ruler of Bengal.

The remote ancestor of the Sena Dynasty was one Virsena whose name we have found in the Puranas. The Senas were known as the Brahma-Kshatriya as because they were at first Brahmin but became Kshatriya afterwards.

Samantasena was a noted general who distinguished himself in various wars in South India. In his old age he settled at Radha in Bengal and laid the foundation of future greatness of the family.

King Hemanta Sena – Founder of Sena Dynasty in Bengal

His son Hemanta Sena took the title of Maharajadhiraj and founded an independent kingdom in Radha taking advantage of the disintegration of the Pala Empire by the Kaivartha revolt of Divya. Raja Hemanta Sena  is believed to be the founder of Sena Dynasty. From Radha the Senas gradually extended their empire to the other parts of Bengal.

How the Senas came in Bengal and captured the royal power is not known to us clearly. Possibly they came to Bengal along with the invading army of Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI. According to some scholars when Rajendra Cholas army invaded Bengal the Senas accompanied them and might be some Karnata official of the Palas established an independent kingdom at Radha taking advantage of the weakness of their master.

Sena Empire under Raja Vijay Sena

Raja Vijay Sena was the son of  Hemanta Sena. He was a very powerful ruler of Sena Empire. He elevated the Sena Empire into the position of the rulers of the whole of Bengal and adjoining provinces. He ruled for a long period of 60 years. He was a shrewd opportunist and calculated meddling in contemporary politics had enabled him to become the master of whole Radhadesa from the position of a petty chief of a small kingdom of Radha. Possibly he helped Rampala against Bhima in exchange of territory and money. His marriage to the princess of Sara family had also increased his power.

After the death of Rampala, Vijaysena made an attempt to conquer the whole of Bengal. He made an alliance with the Kalinga king, Ananta Varmana Chodaganga and became the lord of Radha desa. From thereon he proceeded to conquer Gauda and Northern Bengal from the Palas. At that time the Mithila king was also trying to invade Gauda. Vijaysena defeated the Mithila king Nanyadeva and faced Madanpala, the Pala king of Gauda to leave Gauda and retire to Magadha. The Deopara inscription proves that with this success he acquired the greater part of Gauda or Northern Bengal.

Following the conquest of Gauda, Vijaysena extended his authority over Vanga or Eastern Bengal by overthrowing King Bhojavarmana of Varmana dynasty. Thus he became the master of whole Bengal. Not only in Bengal, had Vijaysena also extended his empire in other neighboring provinces also. From his Deopara inscription we came to know that he also defeated the kings of Kamrupa and Kalinga. His grandson Lakshmanasena assisted him in, these campaigns. Probably, Vijaysena conquered a portion of North Bihar also.

The long and prosperous reign of Vijaysena was a momentous episode in the history of Bengal. The establishment of a strong and powerful monarchy by Vijaysena put an end to the internal chaotic condition and stopped further foreign invasions that had disturbed the people of Bengal during the close of the Pala regime. The poetical composition of Umapatidhara in the Deopara Prasasti and the Vijay Prasasti of Sir Harsha revealed his glory.

Sena Empire under Ballal Sena

Vijaysena died in 1158 and was succeeded by his son Vallala Sena (Ballal Sena). His period was of peace and social reform. The literary and other traditions, however, speak that Vallala Sena conquered Magadha and Mithila in Bihar. His kingdom consisted of Bengal and Northern Bihar. He was a learned scholar and wrote two famous works—Danasagara and Adbhutsagara. He revived the orthodox Hindu rites and various social reforms including the introduction of Kulinism in Bengal.

Sena Empire under Lakshmana Sena

Lakshmana Sena succeeded his father Vallala Sena in 1179 at an advanced age of 60. He was by faith a Vaishnava and assumed Vaishnavite title. The epigraphic and literary sources credited him of many victorious campaigns. He defeated the Kings of Gauda, Kamrupa, Kalinga and Kasi. King Lakshmana Sena planted the pillars of victory at Puri, Benaras and Allahabad. Lakshmanasena, however, did not undertake any new campaign against these countries. Lakshmanasena’s significant success was against these Gabadavalis who overthrew the Palas from Magadha. Lakshmana Sena defeated Jayachandra Gahadevala from Magadha and carried campaign against Benaras and Allahabad. This conquest is proved by the prevalence of Lakshmana Samvat in North Bihar. He had a struggle against the Kalachuris of the West.

However, by the end of 12th Century the Sena kingdom began to disintegrate due to internal revolts and external invasion. Dommanapala established an independent kingdom at Khadi, Mandala or 24 Parganas. The Deva family also established an independent kingdom at the eastern coast of Meghna.

In 1202 Muhammad Bakhtiyar a soldier of fortune invaded Bengal and captured Nadia the Capital city of Lakshmanasena. Lakshmanasena fled to West Bengal and conquering Nadia Bakhtiyar afterwards shifted his seat of government to Lakhnawati. Even after the loss of Nadia, Lakshmanasena ruled for some more years over Eastern Bengal and Southern Bengal. He probably died in 1205 A.D. He was a great soldier and the last great Hindu ruler in Bengal. He was a great poet and patron of arts and letters. Some of his verses are included in Sadukti karnamrita. He completed his father’s unfinished text of Adbhutasagara. The famous poets like Jaideva, the author of Gitagovinda, the Dhoyi the author of Pavanaduta and scholars like Halaydha, Sridharadesj etc. were in his court.

Vishwarup Sena was the 5th ruler of Sena Dynasty.  Keshav Sena was the 6th and the last ruler of Sena Dynasty.